Liverpool Mailbag: Maxi Rodriguez Looks to Be Odd Man Out After Andy Carroll, Luis Suarez Get Up to Speed


Liverpool Mailbag: Maxi Rodriguez Looks to Be Odd Man Out After Andy Carroll, Luis Suarez Get Up to Speed

Now that the transfer window has ended, Liverpool supporters seem to be most concerned with two questions: How do all of the pieces fit together on the pitch? and what is the outlook for the club’s financial future?

Given the recent tactical changes and player acquisitions, wondering about the lineup is surely justified, as is concern for Liverpool’s financial health given the new UEFA fair-play rules and the ongoing stadium debate.

Here are some questions from supporters on these subjects.

How will the new ‘fair play’ (UEFA’s new financial regulations), that come into effect next season effect us (LFC) and the other clubs? Will we be better off or not?

Realistically, the regulations are largely a formality until 2015 or so — though they will impact the most financially bereft clubs and clubs with no regards for a balance sheet like Chelsea and Manchester City more imminently.

Because the initiative is being phased in, the requirements are far from stringent at first. In 2013-14, the first season of enforcement — with 2012 being the first year assessed — a club may “acceptably deviate” from breaking even financially by up to 45 million euros. For 2015-16 — with 2013 being the first year assessed — the requirement becomes a little more difficult, with up to 30 million euros of financial loss allowed. The ultimate “acceptable deviation” from breakeven will be just 5 million euros for the three-year period assessed, but that is pretty far away on the horizon.

Chelsea did lose upwards of 80 million euros this past season, meaning that they will have to drastically alter their finances in order to get under the acceptable-deviation limit, but it’s hard to imagine them failing to do so. They’ll just have to sell players, something that they look likely to do anyway.

In fact, this 2011 flurry of transfer spending by Chelsea and Liverpool wasn’t particularly unwise, given the regulations, as transfer fees in 2011 aren’t really part of the equation (they are somewhat, through amoritization). Wages in contracts signed since June 2010, though, are included in the 2012 evaluation, so Chelsea’s decision to give Fernando Torres 180,000 pounds per week may make things difficult for the Blues going forward.

For Liverpool, the new provision will make the long-term need for increased stadium revenue more pressing, but perhaps also more difficult to achieve. I wouldn’t, however, expect the rules to really hurt Liverpool relatively speaking. FSG has a history of maximizing resources and being financially responsible. I’d expect the new regulations to give them an advantage in such a context, if anything.

The full UEFA document can be found here. Things get interesting around Article 50.

Is there any chance that Liverpool gets its old formation of 4-4-2?
–vignesh.b.iyer, Mumbai

Do you want Liverpool to get its old 4-4-2 back? Even though Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez seem like an ideal match as a 4-4-2 striking partnership, such a formation would simply put too many of Liverpool’s players out of position — which was evident when Roy Hodgson went with such a formation.

In order to run a proper 4-4-2, a side needs midfielders who are natural wide players like Gareth Bale or Adam Johnson. Liverpool just doesn’t have that — though one could argue that that’s really what Glen Johnson is — and as a result, Kenny Dalglish has to come up with other tactics in order to generate width and get the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Steven Gerrard and Maxi Rodriguez on the pitch where they can be most effective. Of late, that has been in a 3-5-1-1. That gimmick can’t last forever, but even if Liverpool reverts to a normal backline, some sort of 4-3-3 with Suarez and Kuyt as left and right forwards, Meireles as the attacking midfielder, and Gerrard and Lucas as central midfielders seems more logical.

Do you know of any further acquisition of players by Liverpool FC and who they might be?
–Yinka, London

We’re all in the dark on this one. Fabio Coentrao seems to be the name that has remained atop the most transfer wishlists as far as supporters are concerned, and there’s no denying that he’s the kind of player that FSG would want given his youth, but he seems destined to be the object of a pricy bidding war. FSG wants to find value in acquisitions, which means not just buying the most sought-after young players, but finding ones that others haven’t, are undervalued, and through a revitalized youth system.

In January, we saw what FSG’s behavior was as far as transfers were concerned. The Suarez acquisition could be seen a mile away and dragged on for weeks. The Carroll acquisition, on the other hand, came out of nowhere. Stateside, FSG did the same thing with the Red Sox. In December, they acquired star first-baseman Adrian Gonzalez after two years of rumors and star outfielder Carl Crawford completely out of nowhere. You never know what they’re going to do — which is probably a good thing.

The need, though, is clear. Liverpool needs width in midfield, and if Pepe Reina wants to leave in the summer, the club will direly need a keeper as well. Coentrao, while capable of playing in midfield on the left, is a natural back, and therefore may not be the best fit.

Who do you think will get dropped when Andy Carroll is fit and Luis Suarez is ready for 90 minutes?

The situation is complicated by the hypothetical return of Joe Cole as well, but if I had to bet, I’d say that the first-choice 11 will be: Carroll, Suarez, Kuyt, Meireles, Lucas, Gerrard, Johnson, Kelly, Carragher, Agger and Reina. That means that the team will return to a traditional four-man defense, with Martin Skrtel the man out in central defense, and that Rodriguez and Cole would be the two men to miss out. Fabio Aurelio, Rodriguez, Christian Poulsen and Cole, though, will see time in midfield, and Skrtel and Sotorios Kyrgiakos will be used in defense frequently as well.

The most important question is what about our new stadium. We need a new stadium with bigger capacity.
–Mohammad Abbasi, Tehran

John Henry‘s most recent comments on the subject pretty heavily imply that the notion of redeveloping Anfield is being strongly considered as an alternative to either a new stadium or a shared ground.

Not only did Henry praise the tradition and atmosphere at Anfield, but he also asserted that plans to build a new ground are simply not financially feasible, and that’s why each of the past two ownership groups have failed to move forward with such.

Henry’s history also lends a clue to what may unfold. Instead of building a new stadium after acquiring the Boston Red Sox, FSG instead chose to redevelop Fenway Park. Fenway, like Anfield, is highly constrained by space and the neighboring area, but had an atmosphere and history that were too much to move away from. Henry found a way to modernize Fenway, and maximize the amount of revenue that the ground could generate. It would seem natural to apply such a model to Anfield.

Given the January spending and continued focus on overhaul going forward, it does seem that the ownership’s most immediate focus is on the team on the pitch, not the pitch itself. Henry’s group, though, is evaluating all of the options rigorously.

Send questions for Nick’s next mailbag here or on Twitter @nickcoman.

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